The cost of being elected to the City Council was dramatically different for Bob Zemel and Lou Lopez.
Zemel, who had placed third in the two previous elections, spent more than $108,000 for last November’s win. Lopez spent $34,000, according to financial disclosure records reviewed this week.
“It was important for me to make it happen, so we did an awful lot of fund raising,” Zemel said Thursday. “It takes citywide financial support to be able to change the system. You couldn’t raise that kind of money if people didn’t believe in what you were saying.”
In a race for two open seats Nov. 8, Zemel placed second among 16 candidates. Lopez got the most votes.
“All the power-brokers said I couldn’t do it my way,” Lopez said Thursday. “People can’t believe I won on that kind of money. I was told I would need a minimum of $60,000 to get elected in Anaheim. But I’ve been involved in politics for 15 years, won three elections and have knocked on a lot of doors. I didn’t just come out of the woodwork.”
In the separate race for mayor, incumbent Tom Daly spent more than $77,400 and easily defeated challenger Curtis Stricker, who spent just over $5,400, records show.
Between Oct. 23 and Dec. 31, Daly received contributions of $1,000 from the Democratic Foundation of Orange County, the International Union of Operating Engineers, Anaheim Limited Partnership, and United Food & Commercial Workers.
Other top-spenders included: Paul Bostwick, who finished in fourth place after spending more than $80,800, about half of which was his own money; fifth-place finisher Sharon Ericson, who spent about $55,300, and seventh-place finisher Leonard Lahtinen, who reported expenditures of more than $47,800, of which $29,000 was his own money.
Candidate Shirley McCracken, running for a council seat for the first time, managed to finish third while spending only $20,500.
Bostwick said he has “no regrets” over his expensive loss.
“It’s a heck of a lot of money, but how else can you get the message to the people?” he said. “I think we gave it a great shot and will probably do it again in 1996.”
Ericson, who spent $20,000 of her own money in her unsuccessful bid, said it is difficult to compete against well-funded candidates in Anaheim, which she said makes Lopez’s victory and McCracken’s strong showing all the more remarkable.
“The biggest problem is that the city is so big,” Ericson said. “You have to do mailings to reach people and postage is so expensive. You are competing against people with a lot of money. To me, there’s nothing worse than having to ask for money.”
Lopez, elected to the City Council on his first try, had previously been elected to the Anaheim City School District and Anaheim Union High School District.
In the later stages of his campaign, Lopez received $1,000 donations from Walt Disney Co., Silicon Salvage Inc., Philip L. Anthony Inc., and Dew & Associates Inc. He also received a $500 contribution from California Angels owner Jackie Autry and $100 from Tait & Associates, the engineering firm run by newly sworn-in Councilman Tom Tait.
Zemel’s financial support toward the end of his successful campaign came from a variety of major players in Anaheim, including $1,000 contributions from the Walt Disney Co. and Anaheim Hilton and Towers.
Other donations of at least $500 came from Jackie Autry, the Anaheim Police Officers Political Action Committee, Carl Karcher Enterprises, former Councilman Fred Hunter, Tait (who was later nominated to the council by Zemel), and William C. Taormina of Anaheim Disposal.
“They were willing to invest in me,” Zemel said. “Not that they will get a return other than good government. They were willing to invest in good government.”
Zemel also has loaned his campaigns $15,680 since September, 1992, financial records show.
Although Zemel outspent all other council and mayoral candidates, his total of campaign expenditures was still far less than what had been spent in previous city elections.
In 1992, the year that the City Council approved an ordinance limiting the amount of campaign contributions, a total of $701,693 was spent by mayoral and council candidates.
The ordinance says candidates can accept no more than $1,000 from any donor for each election. It also placed tougher caps on some businesses and their owners by limiting business partners to a combined contribution of $1,000. Also, a business and its majority owner are limited to a combined contribution of $1,000.
There is no limits on how much candidates can give their own campaigns.